Following his first stop in Brisbane, the great Phil Collins brought his ‘Not Dead Yet: Live!’ tour to Sydney for a trio of gigs at Qudos Bank Arena.

His first Australian shows in over two decades, this tour sees Collins looking older than his years, and certainly a different performer than the one Aussie fans would have witnessed all those years back.

But, surrounded by a talented band – some of whom he’s shared the stage with for half a century – and the next generation of Collins drummers, Phil is still giving long-suffering fans a show that was worth the wait.

Moments with his son provide the highlights of the night

Having apparently started learning the drums at the age of two, Phil’s 17-year-old son Nicholas Collins has earnt his place backing up his dad, who stepped away from the kit permanently following the last Genesis reunion tour, due to accumulated injuries.

While many would love to see the older Collins pick up the sticks again, it’s a joy to watch the restrained pride he expresses towards his son throughout the show. And, rather than simply “bringing the average age of the band down – a lot” as Phil jokes, Nicholas certainly earns the respect of a discerning crowd, too.

It’s not the iconic drum break of ‘In The Air Tonight’ that proves to be his biggest moment, though. Rather, an extended mid-set drum duet between drummer Nicholas and percussionist Richie Garcia brings a frenetic, rave-like feeling to the room – perhaps a little upbeat for some of the older fans seated at Qudos Bank Arena.

The two trade toms and bongos back and forth, before Phil rejoins the stage holding a slap-top cajon drum for a brief but oh-so-satisfying drum circle with his fellow percussionists. As the three build to a frenzy with their trio of cajons, it’s clear that while Phil’s body might not be up to sitting behind a kit anymore, his unmatched sense of rhythm hasn’t left him.

Add to all of this a touching moment that sees Nicholas back his father on piano for a rendition of ‘You Know What I Mean’ (Phil jokes that it was the only song in his entire back-catalogue that his son enjoyed), and we have a show that weaves the father-son dynamic in perfectly, without ever feeling heavy-handed.

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A quick highlight reel to set the scene…

Phil even makes old age look cool

It might be disappointing to realise that the once-dynamic performer has been relegated to sitting atop a swivel chair for the majority of the performance, but Collins uses his natural charisma – and the support of an equally-charismatic band – to ensure that you’ll barely even notice.

His performance and well-honed stage banter bring to mind recent sets by UK legends like Robert Plant, Cat Stevens and Paul McCartney, all of whom use their typically-British self-deprecating humour to draw attention to – and simultaneously dismiss – their aging rocker status.

Phil, of course, has leant into this more than the others by naming this the ‘Not Dead Yet’ tour. And while the numbness in his foot caused by a recent back surgery means that he only stands for a few select moments, he works that humble office chair in a way that makes Axl Rose’s guitar throne look even more ridiculous.

And like the aforementioned McCartney & Co., while a slightly-diminished vocal range necessitates the reworking of some vocal melodies – ‘Sussudio’ being the most noticeable – and the occasional support of his brilliant vocal quartet, Phil’s vocals for the most part sound just as you’d hope for a man nearing 70. Not dead yet, by a long stretch.

phil collins australian tour live sussudio photo credit michelle doan
The big finale as ‘Sussudio’ hits has everyone out of their seats

A set of crowd-pleasers

With so many enormous hits to churn through, there were always bound to be a couple missing from the set. ‘One More Night’ would have made for a nice inclusion, and one super-fan was certain that Collins would return to play ‘Two Hearts’ in the encore (he instead gives us a single track, an arena-filling version of ‘Take Me Home’).

But it’s hard to argue with what’s on offer here, with 20 tracks that run the gamut from early Genesis classics ‘Throwing It All Away’, ‘Follow You Follow Me’ and ‘Invisible Touch’ (accompanied by some classic visuals), to a stirring cover of Stephen Bishop’s ‘Separate Lives’ with the absurdly talented Bridgette Bryant.

Of course, ‘In The Air Tonight’ saw the most phones being raised, and the barrage of upbeat hits that followed saw the crowd mostly abandon their seats for the remainder of the show, culminating in the confetti-pop that ushered in closing track ‘Sussudio’.

A casual wave as he limps off the stage lets us know that we may have seen Phil Collins playing live for the last time. But, even when staring the relentless march of time right in the eyes, he put on one hell of a show.

Limited tickets remain, so be sure to check out the upcoming tour dates below.

Phil Collins ‘Not Dead Yet: Live!’ Australian tour 2019

Saturday, 19th January
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Monday, 21st January
Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney

Tuesday, 22nd January
Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney
Tickets: TEG Dainty

Wednesday, 23rd January — NEW SHOW
Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney
Tickets: TEG Dainty

Friday, 25th January
Adelaide Oval, Adelaide
Tickets: TEG Dainty

Monday, 28th January
RAC Arena, Perth
Tickets: TEG Dainty

Tuesday, 29th January
RAC Arena, Perth
Tickets: TEG Dainty

Friday, 1st February
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Tickets: TEG Dainty

Saturday, 2nd February
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Tickets: TEG Dainty